The Employee Experience is Crucial to a Successful Patient Experience

Employee Experience and Patient Experience Go Hand-in-hand

Let’s be clear: I love my job. Truly. In fact, I’m one of those people who truly enjoys going to work. Sickening? Perhaps. But hang on…here comes the punch line: it’s been A WEEK. School is back in session, which means a new and unfamiliar schedule…and necessary bedtimes. (I really dislike bedtimes, especially on beautiful August summer evenings here in WI.) Kid sports and activities are again in full swing, most nights of the week. And we’re nearing Q4 on the business side of things, which means…client budgets need to get used and therefore, we are UBER busy. Which truly, is a good thing.

What’s not a good thing? The 13 hours of sleep I’ve managed across the last three nights. And, confession time: I’m simply not my best in this intense a situation, on this little sleep, with this level of stress. I’m not patient, I’m less kind than I should be, I don’t listen to my kids and husband very well, and I don’t truly engage in my life. I’m surviving.

After the week started the way it did, I saw this meme on a social media site the other day and it struck a chord with me. UNTIL, I had a friend say to me, “You don’t want to be a survivor, a warrior…you were made for better – you’re a THRIVER.”

And you know what? She was absolutely right. All the personal stuff aside, when I’m stressed, tired, overwhelmed, I’m most certainly not as professionally innovative and sharp as I know I’m capable of. And it got me thinking…healthcare professionals, with whom we are working more and more, work in this type of environment frequently. The stress, the “go-go-go,” the utter fatigue…this is a common scenario for many of those we trust to help us get and remain healthy – our physicians, nurses, and the office and admin staff that support them.

You know those moments when you stop in your tracks and think “holy cow?” Yeah, I had one of those moments. Because about a month ago, the pediatric after-hours line sent me to the emergency room with a sick kid. A physician friend on staff that night came out to greet us. He then stopped in our room to check in again at the end of his shift at 12:30 AM before heading home to his wife and three kids. Thinking back now, I realize how much better our experience was that night because this employee cared.

This is one key reason why we need to care about – and measure, monitor, and respond to – the EMPLOYEE experiences in healthcare, and not just the patient experiences.

These physicians, nurses, office staff, they are human and prone to human emotions, reactions, flaws just like the rest of us. Which means that they also get tired, frustrated, and stressed – and that this can also impact the way in which they perform their jobs that day.

As was the case for my family that night in the ED, these employees are the ones that can make or break a patient experience. And that night, we were fortunate to have care reflective of a healthcare organization that values, appreciates, and actively works to engage its employees in their roles.

Recently, I was trying to schedule a specialist appointment for my son and the “first available time” was 4 months out. My poor child suffers from major allergies, has asthma, and we couldn’t get his prescription renewed until we’d visited his allergist. Realistically, by the time we’d have been able to get in, all the allergens would have been frozen out, since we live in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, so it made more sense for us to cancel that appointment and free that slot up for someone else!

This brings us to a second reason why we must care deeply about healthcare employee experience: the current shortage of healthcare professionals.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, projected that 1.1 million additional nurses are needed to avoid further shortage, and that as a profession, employment opportunities for nurses will grow at a faster rate than all other occupations from 2016-2026.

There’s a similar story on the physician side, with the Association of American Medical Colleges projecting a shortage of 120,000 physicians by 2030. With Baby Boomers getting older, this shortage will only increase due to increases in patient volume and demand, and as Baby Boomer healthcare professionals retire.

Undoubtedly, these shortages will impact both availability and quality of care. While not a macro solution, one way healthcare systems can proactively mitigate these shortages on a local level is to focus on efforts designed to retain their teams. Employee retention is a complex concept, and impacted by a variety of factors: the nature of the work, the employee’s manager and teammates, the work environment, work-life balance, perceived value of the work the employee does, etc.

Understanding what matters to healthcare employees, and actively working to engage them is going to be critical in both the short and long term.

I was reading an article recently about a nurse on her way to work who, upon seeing a mother running down the highway, pulled over and was able to revive the woman’s non-breathing infant child. When these stories make the news, two things often strike me as consistent elements: the individual involved in the life-saving measure is a healthcare professional, and the drama has played out outside the confines of the hospital or clinic in which this healthcare professional works.

But here’s the thing: this is what these professionals DO. Not all may actually work in a role in which they are called to save lives on a daily basis, but on the whole, it is these same employees, going about their jobs on a daily basis, who are frequently the reason why a patient in their care has lived instead of died.

This story illustrates a third reason why a program measuring a holistic patient experience MUST also include measurement of employee experience. The actions, the attention, the engagement of the doctors, nurses, in-take staff are often what separates patients from life or death.

Healthcare systems and hospitals are the entities that have the power to proactively understand and manage the employment experiences of their employees. Whether they do so, not only impacts the delivery of care, it can literally mean the difference between life and death.

So how can the healthcare industry value their employees while providing an excellent patient experience? Below are some best practices to be considered:

  • Include employees in conversations that involve patient feedback and care, as they are the ones who interact with patients day to day. Paying attention to feedback can help bridge the gaps in experiences for both patients and employees. Employees need to know that their voice is valued.
  • Remember that employees are human. Healthcare industry leaders are in position to look out for the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of their employees. Something simple like providing a meal during a long shift, or making sure employees are highlighted for their important work is a good way to start. Recognition goes a long way, and helps employees feel valued by the patients they serve.
  • Provide growth opportunities for employees, allowing them to learn new things while helping them with their career paths. This not only makes the employee feel valued, but also increases loyalty to patients and their respective healthcare employers.

3 Reasons Why Behavioural Science is Critical for CX Transformation

Spare a thought for the millions of emails that are never opened.

For the millions of letters that are never read.

For the millions of website clicks that never reach conversion.

For the millions of full baskets that are never checked out.

For the millions of forms that are never filled out.

For the millions of conversations that leave the customer unsatisfied.

Despite the strive for customer-centricity, many businesses have forgotten what is most important: the customer. So how do we bring back the human touch?

More and more customer experience teams are starting to use principles from Behavioural Science to transform their customer experience. Want to try taking this innovative approach for yourself?

Below are three reasons to start incorporating nudges from Behavioural Science in your customer experience today:

1) You Can Use Behavioural Science to Better Understand and Change Customer Behaviour

There is no doubt that Behavioural Science provides a compelling toolkit for understanding what is really going on inside customers’ brains. Behavioural Science uses these customer insights in order to change behaviour and drive compelling results.

For example, when our brains are faced with too much information, we experience “cognitive overload.” To reduce this problem for one of our clients, we helped them to “chunk” complex information in phone calls into digestible parts. This made it easier for customers to take action, and improved the sales conversion by +68.5%.

2) Behavioural Science Transforms the Internal Customer Experience for Employees, as Well as the External Experience for Customers

The brilliance underpinning Behavioural Science is that the human insight is universal. We’re using the very same techniques to improve the experience for employees and, by doing so, this creates valuable experiences for customers.

For one of our clients, we used the principle of “reciprocity” to make conversations in contact centres more meaningful and fulfilling for both employees and customers alike. Customers aren’t saying, “I don’t know what you mean,” anymore, and employees are enjoying their conversations more.

As a result, the churn rate of staff is down to a one quarter of the previous levels, and employee NPS has improved considerably.

3) Behavioural Science Benefits From Academically Rigorous Techniques that Prove the Value of Customer Experience Transformation

Customer Experience Transformation Programmes are often challenged on their ability to deliver concrete value to the business, and one of the benefits of Behavioural Science is its academic rigour. Being able to prove that customer experience interventions are backed up by science is a real asset in a business context.

Randomised Control Trials, A/B split tests, MVTs all combine to accurately and statistically prove the value of any investment, and make a robust business case for future investment.

In order to demonstrate the value of using Behavioural Science to transform customer experience, we work with our clients to design rigorous experiments.

In one such experiment, we demonstrated that our Behavioural Science intervention delivered transformational commercial returns of £37:£1.

There’s no doubt that using Behavioural Science allows you to deliver a superior customer experience with transformational results. If you’d like to learn more about how you can start using Behavioural Science to improve your customer experience today, come and say hello at the Cowry Consulting stand at CXForum on the 9th of October.

www.cowryconsulting.com

MaritzCX Unveils the Healthcare Industry’s First CX-Based Patient Experience Platform

MaritzCX is the first and only CX platform company that’s been CMS-certified to offer Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS®) surveys.

Identifying the need for an all-inclusive, customizable patient experience survey and reporting framework, we developed the MaritzCX Patient Experience Platform, the healthcare industry’s first CX-based patient experience platform.

The platform allows for HCAHPS, patient experience, employee experience, safety and quality, point-of-care/rounding, operational, financial, and clinical data can be uploaded into a single platform, in real time.

With an inclusive view unlike anything before, healthcare organizations can identify more significant and impactful improvements to enhance patient experiences, scores and reimbursement.

They can also view and analyze patient experience data from multiple sources and surveys to gain a more comprehensive view of what impacts the patient journey.

 

“Healthcare organizations have long looked for patient experience best practices outside of their industry. Meanwhile, MaritzCX has spent 50 years implementing customer experience best practices for leading global organizations in industries that include hospitality, retail, high tech, and financial services. Finally, MaritzCX has smashed the regulatory and technology barrier between the two arenas. MaritzCX has spent the last two years building a platform that offers the functionality needed to revolutionize the patient experience. With the MaritzCX Patient Experience Platform and CMS certification, we help healthcare firms break free of the inflexible and stagnant offerings provided by current patient experience vendors in the space today.”

— Mike Sinoway, MaritzCX President and CEO

 

Hospitals and Patients Benefit from a Revolutionary Patient Experience Platform

  • Limitless Customization Capability

 From self-serve to full-serve with MaritzCX experts, healthcare teams can easily design survey questions down to the level of each individual patient, if desired. Customization extends to dashboard views, reports and distribution options directly within the platform.

  • Seamless Integration with Existing Systems

 Easily integrate current survey initiatives and systems into the MaritzCX Patient Experience Platform and view data from HCAHPS, Safety, Quality, Employee Experience or any other data source in one place. Viewing data dynamically together aides in understanding connections and performance.

  • Patient-centric Platform

Make the patient the priority and offer options via responsive mobile, text, email, online and mail capture feedback from beginning to end along the patient journey.

  • Employee Experience (EX) and Patient Experience (PX) Linkage

MaritzCX is the only firm that focuses on true EX-PX linkage and transparency of patient experience data across the organization, coupling it with employee awareness, training, management and recognition/reward programs. This linkage helps PX teams get to the root of organizational change (employees) to positively impact patient experiences.

 

Customer Experience Experts that Know Patient Experience Too

Experts in customer experience, MaritzCX is the only CX platform company to earn CMS certification. Our Patient Experience Platform is built, supported and implemented by MaritzCX, ensuring complete HIPAA compliance.

Click here to start improving your patient experience today.

Ready to Tackle Customer Churn? Here’s How.

Is there a business that hasn’t lost a single customer? Doubtful. Customer churn is inevitable. For this reason, maintaining superior customer experience in a world of insurmountable choice and lagging brand loyalty is of utmost importance. Now I’m no mind reader, but since you’re still here, I’ll assume that you’re struggling with generating new demand for your business and keeping existing customers around at the same time.

For starters, let’s define customer churn.

Also known as customer attrition, churn refers to the rate at which your customers stop purchasing your product or service, signaling the end of their relationship with you. These customers stop bringing in revenue for your business. 

Customer Churn Rate Equation

Let’s say that you started this quarter with 500 customers but lost 25; this means your churn rate is 5%. 

Other measurable ways for customer churn include:

  1. Number of customers dropped
  2. Percentage of customers lost
  3. Amount of monthly recurring revenue (MRR) lost
  4. Percentage of MRR lost

What Causes Customer Churn?

  • Value Pricing is tricky because customers are always looking for the most cost-effective solution to the problem they wish to solve. Customers need to feel like their purchase was worth the cost, so it’s crucial to establish value early on, through customer onboarding and education. Otherwise, they’re at risk for churn. 
  • Product Fit – Another common reason for customer churn is an inferior fit. If you have a sales team that’s hustling to hit quota but isn’t incentivized to sell to good-fit customers, your company will face consequences. Soon after their purchase, customers will realize they can’t achieve their goals with your product and will churn.
  • User Experience – If you have a product that’s not very intuitive or your software is glitchy, chances are customers will be less likely to use it on a regular basis and build expertise with it. They may not stick around for long. 
  • Competitors – Even if you believe you’re assisting customers to achieve their desired outcomes, they’ll still churn if they firmly believe that a competitor can do a better job. Competition is fierce these days, so you need to work hard to set yourself apart from your competition.
  • Missing Features/deliverables – Let’s say you fail to fulfill a goal that was initially agreed on while getting a client on board. When you fail to provide services as promised, you’re bound to lose a customer.

What Are Some Churn Indicators to Watch Out For?

1. Weak CX metrics – When thinking about churn, there are two CX metrics, in particular, that you should pay close attention to:

    • Net Promoter Score.  The grand-daddy of customer experience metrics, a detractor or passive NPS survey response is a leading indicator of churn. 
    • Customer Effort Score. Many software companies have adopted CES to measure the ease of getting started with your company or product. If this critical phase, often known as onboarding, is too difficult, churn can follow. 

2. Usage levelCustomer churn is often preceded by a period of decreased usage level, so keep a close eye on users’ login activity. This will help you to identify at-risk customers right before they churn. Also, if a customer downgrades to a lower tier of your product, this should be worrisome news – there’s a good chance that this customer will soon stop using your product altogether.

3. Customer’s KPI’sIf your product or service isn’t helping customers achieve their KPIs, then the chance of them churning is much higher. If you notice that a valued customer isn’t reaching their desired goals, it’s crucial that you reach out to them and find out what you can do to better help them achieve those goals.

4. Customer HealthWhile measured definitively when a customer renews or doesn’t, customer success teams look at a number of factors to assign a customer health score to an account. Take a look at the kinds of customer support interactions you’re seeing from the customer. After using your service, do you think the customer is getting what they’re paying for? How does the account manager feel about the customer’s state of mind about the services they’re buying from you? Factor in the account’s CX metrics. As soon as you have an idea of who might leave, you’ll be able to take all the relevant steps to define the problem, fix it, and retain their business. Eventually, you can start to implement a systematic approach to measuring customer health, uncovering at-risk customers, and reaching out to them.

5. Feature AdoptionEvery product or service has some key feature that makes it stand out from competitors. If a valued customer isn’t using these features, this is an indicator that they might churn soon.

6. SupportThis point refers to the number of support issues raised, the severity of the issues, the time it took to resolve them, and the customer’s satisfaction with the interaction (often measured with a CSAT survey). These factors can have a significant impact on a customer’s health, so they’re important to pay attention to. If a customer hasn’t reported any issues or asked any questions, this could also be a red flag – a silent customer doesn’t mean they are happy with your product. 

What Needs to Be Done?

1. Engage with your customers.

This might sound obvious, but engaging with your customers is the best way to make them stay. Proactively inquire about how they are doing using CX surveys at key journey points. This will help you identify who is happy and who is at risk. Armed with this information, follow up with a conversation if warranted. Get them on the phone and show that your company genuinely cares. But don’t stop there – keep engaging. Depending on the size of the customer, you may want to schedule a quarterly check-in, and certainly one in advance of renewal. 

In addition to talking directly to customers, provide ample and educational content about the key functional benefits of your product. Offer regular news updates, to communicate your commitment to innovation in service of their success.
With this kind of communication, you can get customers to keep coming back by showing them the value of using your product and how they can make your product a part of their daily workflow. 

Last but not least, I’d like to recommend social listening – the process of finding and contributing to conversations about your company online by seeking out brand mentions, specific keywords or phrases, and comments. 

By doing these things, you’ll be able to keep tabs on what’s going on in terms of customer satisfaction.

2. Educate Your Customers

Another churn-prevention trick: provide plenty of quality educational or support materials. Try offering free trainings, webinars, video tutorials, and product demos. Do whatever it takes to make your customers feel comfortable and informed. Put simply, you must not only give customers tools that work but also offer training on how to best use these tools. In this way, you’ll also be able to demonstrate the full potential of your product or service.

3. Set realistic expectations

As I mentioned before, failing to deliver on services as promised can result in a very unhappy customer that is at high risk of churning. One of the common practices I have seen across several industries is to over promise and under deliver. Why would a salesperson want to do this? There could be numerous reasons: 

    • They fear they might lose a potential customer
    • They’re facing pressure from their boss
    • They desire to come across as the “deal maker”  
    • They’re desperate to close the deal
    • They’re unwilling to tell the customer what they don’t want to hear

4. Keep a keen eye on competitors

It’s a bad sign when your customers perceive your competition to be better. As you work on reducing customer churn, pay close attention to how your customers might perceive your competitors’ products, and don’t forget to benchmark your overall performance and customer satisfaction against your competitors. 

Lastly, remember, the stakes are higher than ever. It’s time to make smart moves!

Author Bio:
Vikash Kumar works as a manager in the offshore software development company Tatvasoft.com. In his free time, Kumar enjoys writing and exploring new technical trends and topics. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Automakers Focusing More Attention to “Retention/loyalty”…But Can Dealers Deliver at the Customer Facing Level?

There’s a change going on with automakers! For the first time, automotive OEMs are creating and implementing proprietary customer loyalty programs for their dealer network.

Those programs are anchored by redeemable rewards points and aimed at keeping customers in the dealership “loyalty loop.” And car makers are even funding entire programs…one has even deposited $210 worth of points for each new car buyer so that new sold customers can use their points immediately.

It’s a first for the automakers, who, until recently, have ridden the wave of robust car sales following the great recession of 2008. The past hot market for sales placed retention on the back burner. But that wave is now ending, prompting dealers to search for other means of profits…mainly from used cars and the service center.

Loyalty programs, driven by redeemable points, are not new. Those programs offered by vendors have been around for decades. What makes them more attractive today is the new awareness on the part of retail auto leaders of the true value of a retained customer.

Loyalty programs can send a clear message to the customer that “we care about a relationship with the customer for the future”.

In addition to creating loyalty rewards program, car makers are also focusing more and more on retention rate benchmarks of their dealers…even rewarding them with bonus cash for meeting manufacturer preset goals.

And there is an increasingly strong feeling among retail auto leaders that “retention” will eventually replace “CSI” as the key measurement for the customer’s experience at the dealership.

In one case, a major automaker has already replaced the traditional service CSI score with an expected retention number.

These changes are also prompting a subtle but significant shift in dealership strategy. Traditionally, dealer leadership has always focused on the showroom, but now, with the plateauing of sales, that same leadership is now gaining a more intimate awareness of how the service center is the key to retaining customers for service revenue and repeat sales.

Dealer Service Centers are Ground Zero for Customer Retention

There is little doubt that what happens in the dealer service center has the most profound effect on customer retention. I spoke about this in two previous posts in the Maritz CXCafe Your Other Showroom, The Service Center and Client Loyalty Is Not Dead…But Client Follow-Up is!…but some of that information bears repeating in this latest post.

Success with ramping up acts of retention will require a dramatic cultural change that dealers will not adapt to easily.

Ever since the dawn of auto retailing, budgets for bringing traffic to the showroom have far exceeded those allocated for the service center. That will have to change with the new focus on loyalty.

Consider these NADA stats from 2017:

  • Dealers spent an average of $7.00 on retaining their already sold customers (2017)
  • Luxury dealers spent an average of $762.00 on each vehicle sold, non-luxury spent $670.00 (2017)
  • Average gross on referral vehicle sales was $1,200.00 vs $817.00 for fresh “ups”
  • Referrals have a 51% service usage vs 29% for fresh ups
  • Referrals have a 96% CSI score vs 73% for fresh ups

Clearly, increasing budgets for the service center have had a hard time gaining traction with store General Managers, a group dominated by those whose pedigree was developed in the showroom. That will have to change.

Greatest Deterrent to Focusing on Retention is the Existing “Transactional” Culture

Dealer service advisers don’t instinctively view the value of customer retention. I know this after observing it for 3 years as customer experience manager/retention (the service center exclusively) for one of the largest Buick dealers in the country.

As I stated in a past MaritzCX Cafe post, the number one enemy of customer retention is what I call transactionalism…the preoccupation with an all-consuming focus by dealers on the sales “deal” or the service “RO”, to the detriment of creating a “memorable” experience for the customer with follow up to match.

That proverbial focus on the transaction pushes a “memorable experience” and “customer follow up” to the back burner.

Customer Rewards Programs: A Platform for Delivering a Memorable Experience

We already have established that the service center is ground zero for retention success/failure for dealerships. We also know that service advisers are the primary brand ambassadors for that retention.

Sure, the CX delivered by the sales unit is important, but not as critical to retaining customers as the service lane experience and customer follow up. And while the customer experience during their visit to service is important to retaining them for future loyalty, the follow up of that same customer is even more critical.

That’s why loyalty programs, featuring redeemable points for future service discounts are so critical to repeat visits to service…and eventually to that next vehicle purchase.

Those programs not only offer the customer future discounts on products and services; they also convey a perception that the dealership cares about a future relationship with the customer.

The Crucial Piece that NPS Misses, and How to Fill the Gap

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is great for a quick overview of customer satisfaction and brand health. But NPS ignores nuance. A single number can’t tell you why customers feel the way they do. The upshot? You may be making bad decisions based on misleading NPS metrics. In a world where customer experience is everything, this can be disastrous.

Key take-aways

A high Net Promoter Score doesn’t mean your brand is healthy

People often leave comments that don’t match their NPS

You can fill this consumer insights gap by analyzing open-ended survey responses, social comments and online reviews

For best results, combine NPS and NLP-powered BI tools into a holistic Voice of Customer program

Read on to learn more about the dangers of measuring customer satisfaction with pure-NPS, and how you can use NLP-powered BI tools to fill this customer insights gap.

  1. What is NPS?
  2. The benefits of NPS
  3. Why is it bad to rely on NPS alone?
  4. The NPS insights gap
  5. How NPS can be misleading
  6. Bridging the NPS insights gap
  7. Customer review analytics in action
  8. How to build a better Voice of Customer program

What is NPS?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a single-question survey designed to measure customer brand loyalty. NPS asks,

“How likely are you to recommend [Company X] to a friend or colleague?”

Customers can answer on a scale:

0-6 = Detractor

7-8 = Passive

9-10 = Promoter

Promoters are likely to buy again or generate referral business. Detractors are unlikely to buy again and may actively discourage others. Passives fall between the two.

A company’s net promoter score is a simple calculation:

Company NPS = [% Promoters] – [% Detractors]

Image by Medallia

As we’ll see, NPS is a versatile number that offers a wide range of benefits and practical applications. But NPS can be dangerously misleading without deeper, supplemental business intelligence.

The benefits of NPS

First and foremost, the NPS system is proven to increase survey response rates by giving customers a chance to have their voice heard, without requiring a substantial time investment.

Next, a company’s Net Promoter Score can simultaneously be taken as a snapshot and tracked over time for predictive analytics.

Third, NPS can be measured by company, product, franchise location, support agent, and a wide range of vectors.

Image by Okuma

Fourth, NPS can serve as a predictor of business growth. A Promoter’s customer lifecycle value (CLV) is usually higher than a Detractor’s or Passive’s. So, a higher NPS naturally correlates with higher revenue, and vice versa.

Fifth, NPS drives rapid changes in policies, products and processes. By using a simple, shared vocabulary, NPS lets you quickly share information within an organization, while being sure that everyone reaches the same conclusions. This helps companies reduce the communication delay between customers, support agents, and product managers.

Finally, you can compare your company’s aggregated Net Promoter Score against your competitors for a simple picture of your brand’s relative health. If your business has an NPS of 70, but your chief competitor boasts a 90, you know to start digging deeper to find out why.

In short, the Net Promoter Score system is a simple, easy way for businesses to paint a clear picture of consumer opinion and brand health.

For these reasons and more, NPS has become a go-to customer success metric for companies and agencies across every industry and vertical. But NPS isn’t enough on its own.

Why is it bad to rely on NPS alone?

The NPS system delivers an easy-to-understand measure of customer satisfaction. And because NPS questions generate more responses than traditional satisfaction surveys, NPS can give you more data to act on. But in the end, this is a dangerous oversimplification. A high NPS doesn’t mean your brand is healthy.

The chasm between Facebook star ratings, represented here by O’Hare ATC Towers, illustrates a fractured opinion of the airport. But why?

Customers don’t care about your NPS. They want to know that they’ll enjoy the experience of using your products and services. And without understanding why you’re receiving your scores, and without giving your customers the chance to tell you in their own words, you’ll never have the data you need to make informed, effective decisions.

The “why” comes from open-ended survey responses, customer comments, social media posts, and online reviews (which is an information source that is notoriously challenging and labor-intensive to utilize). As we’ll show, this is where natural language processing comes into play.

The NPS insights gap

Meet Stephanie.

Stephanie just wrapped up a four-night stay at a San Francisco hotel while in town for a conference. When asked how likely she’d be to recommend the hotel to others, Stephanie responds with an enthusiastic 9.

Sounds great, right? Another promoter created, a higher NPS for the hotel, and a happy management team. Bonuses all around!

Not so fast. Stephanie also left a free-text comment on the same survey:

“Stayed for 4 nights. The room was spotless, and the bed was super comfy. Especially loved the shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom since I forgot mine at home! I did notice the fruit in the bowl at the front desk looked off and the breakfast was kind of lame. But overall a great stay.”

Overall, Stephanie describes a positive experience and offered a generous Net Promoter Score. But her comment raises two red flags that demand attention: rotten fruit and a “lame” breakfast.

How NPS can be misleading

As we said before, NPS deliberately ignores the nuance of open-response customer surveys in favor of higher response rates and fast action. That’s a fine way to gather basic feedback. But customers often leave comments that don’t match their Net Promoter Score. Ignoring this disconnect can seriously damage your business.

Remember that Stephanie gave her hotel a Net Promoter Score of 9.  In her open-ended survey comment, however, she mentioned that the fruit at the front desk looked old and the breakfast was “lame”. Both of these data points are valuable. But a traditional NPS system will totally ignore the critical feedback about the front desk and breakfast service.

[AtlantaThemeVolumeVersusNPS.png]
Evaluating NPS by Themes from real customer reviews of Atlanta International Airport – read our full analysis
And it gets worse. What happens if Stephanie posts her review on TripAdvisor, Yelp, or the hotel’s Facebook page? That shiny NPS may be quickly overshadowed by lost revenue from people turned off by her review.

Without a system in place to analyze Stephanie’s open-ended comment and identify her complaints, the hotel’s managers may never even know why business is down.

Bridging the NPS insights gap

As Stephanie’s story demonstrates, a customer’s Net Promoter Score and their actual comments can send two very different messages.

The best way to fill this “NPS insights gap” is, of course, to read survey responses, online reviews, social comments, and other sources of open-ended feedback.

But the sheer volume of this text is impossible to handle. Until recently, businesses had to comb through customer satisfaction surveys and online review sites by hand. This was a tedious process that required an enormous labor investment for minimal returns.

[woman feeling overwhelmed by customer reviews.png]

As a result, customers had few channels through which they could tell companies about their experiences. Companies were all-but-deaf to these stories, and everyone suffered for it.

Today, however, customer feedback analytics tools like the Lexalytics Intelligence Platform enable you to analyze thousands of open-ended survey responses and real, unstructured customer comments and reviews, all in the time it takes to brew your morning coffee..

These solutions combine natural language processing and artificial intelligence to show you how people talk about their experiences with your products, brands and services, in their own words.

[woman who used to be overwhelmed now inspired by sentiment-analyzed customer reviews.png]

Through intuitive dashboards, you can see exactly what people are talking about, how they feel about those subjects, and why they feel that way.

In short: By analyzing open-ended survey responses and real customer comments, you’ll catch the valuable, context-rich data that NPS systems would fail to pick up on.

The outcome? Better customer experiences can increase lifecycle value 6-14x, reduce churn up to 55% and grow revenue 4-8% (source).

Read our guide: Voice of Customer Analytics: What it Is and How to Do It

Customer review analytics in action

The flexibility and customizability of these platforms make them applicable across industries and verticals, particularly in hospitality/transportation, financial services, pharmaceuticals, and retail.

For example, take a look at this dashboard built in the Lexalytics (an InMoment company) Intelligence Platform, using a data set of Facebook reviews of San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

[SFOReportsDashboard.png]
Click image to enlarge, or read our full analysis of SFO reviews
This dashboard tells a compelling story of traveler experiences at SFO.

Overall, guests are satisfied with the airport – but there are several areas of concern that the airport’s management should investigate. For one, there’s a problem with the charging stations that needs to be addressed immediately. Travelers are complaining about flight scheduling, and mentions of this issue have been increasing over time. And Terminal 1 should be speedily modernized like Terminals 2 and 3.

Through rich, multi-layered analytics dashboards like this one, you can uncover compelling stories of customer experiences, as they tell it.

How to build a better Voice of Customer program

To be clear: Net Promoter Score can and should still have a role in your customer experience management. But as we’ve demonstrated, the NPS insights gap can lead you unwittingly into disaster.

To fill this gap, combine NPS and an NLP-powered Voice of Customer analytics tool to paint detailed pictures of customer experiences.

For example, send NPS surveys for a quick, easily-digestible snapshot of brand health. Use this information to make fast, agile changes.

Meanwhile, use your VoC platform to analyze unstructured customer comments, reviews, and open-ended survey responses at scale.

[SuccessfulVoCProgram.png]

Together, this comprehensive VoC analytics program will deliver the detailed information you need to make informed, effective changes to improve your customer experience.

Customer Experience Enablement: What it is and How it Can Help Your Business Bottom Line

Since you’re here on the Wootric blog, you probably already know that providing a high-quality experience to your customers is vital to your business.

You’ve heard people talk about CX becoming the key differentiator for brands in the coming years.

Stats on how customers values CX

(Source)

You’ve watched brands in a variety of industries revamp their customer-facing operations to improve the consumer’s experience.

You may have even begun investing in improving your brand’s customer experience in a variety of different ways.

But, when it comes down to it, you still aren’t exactly sure if your efforts are paying off for the customer—or for your business.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone: According to a 2018 report from CustomerThink, only 30% of brands report experiencing enhanced differentiation or any other tangible benefit from their CX-related initiatives. Moreover, Oracle reports that only 43% of CX executives are highly confident in their organization’s preparedness and ability to provide an enhanced CX as time goes on.

While there are a number of reasons this is (which we’ll get to), the overarching takeaway is that improving the overall customer experience requires much more from an organization than most realize. In order for a company to make sustainable improvements to its CX—improvements that lead to tangible benefits for the business—a fundamental shift within the organization must occur.

This is where customer experience enablement comes in.

What is Customer Experience Enablement?

Customer experience enablement is an holistic approach to improving CX by making foundational changes to both customer-facing and internal processes within a company. It is worth noting that approach is sometimes known as customer experience management (CXM or CEM). So many acronyms!

Breaking that down a bit more, customer experience enablement (CXE) is all about:

  1. Providing a branded experience that aligns with both the customer’s expectations and the experience the company intended the customer to have
  2. Enabling teams and individual employees within an organization to provide this experience to the customer effectively and efficiently—so that the customer’s experience is equally as efficient throughout their buyer’s journey

As we mentioned above, it’s the second part of our breakdown that organizations often overlook. Unfortunately, this leads said companies into a situation in which they have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done to improve their CX—but are unable to actually put these initiatives into action in ways that benefit both the customer and the business.

That being said, let’s now dig into the key components of customer experience enablement—and why becoming more aligned with these components is essential to the growth of your business.

3 Key Components of Customer Experience Enablement

In the previous section, we broke down customer experience enablement into the customer-facing and internal sides of the same coin.

As you’ll see as you read through the rest of this article, the key components of CXE can touch on either side of this coin—and can sometimes touch on both at the same time, as well.

(If this is a bit confusing, don’t worry: It will start to make sense right away. We promise.)

Without further ado, let’s dig into the three key components of customer experience enablement.

1. Organizational Alignment

In order for an organization to become truly able to enhance the experience they provide their customers, everyone within the organization needs to be on board with the initiative.

Instill Ownership of CX Throughout Your Organization

In some cases, this is pretty obvious. Of course your marketing, sales, and support staff will be involved in CX-related initiatives; they do engage directly with the customer, after all.

In other cases, though, it can be a bit difficult to get certain team members on board. That is, it’s not exactly uncommon for teams that don’t interact with the customer (e.g., accounting, logistics, etc.) to overlook the role they play in the customer experience.

The thing is:

Your team needs to be willing to put in the effort required to improve your CX before they are able to do so. Or, more accurately, if your various teams aren’t willing to work toward improving your brand’s CX, it won’t matter if they’re able to or not: it’s just not going to happen.

Unfortunately, data collected by Adobe shows that a “lack of clear ownership of the customer…holds companies back from a true customer focus,” with nearly half of responding organizations denoting this as a problem.

Furthermore, Kapost’s 2016 B2B Benchmark report found that only 12% of B2B marketers believe that they’re “very effective at delivering a consistent customer experience.”

Only 12% of B2B marketers say they are delivering consistent CX

(Source)

The silver lining of all this is that, if you can instill ownership of the customer throughout your organization, you’ll be a step ahead of half of your competitors.

Communicate the Benefits of CX Ownership

Another area in which generating buy-in is vital to your CX-related initiatives is in proving the value of doing so to your company’s various stakeholders.

At this point, it’s important to frame the benefits of CXE in ways that matter to a specific team or individual. For example, marketing managers will likely care more about engagement metrics, while executives will be focused on revenues and profit margins of the potential initiative. For teams responsible for internal processes, this value likely comes in an ability to be more efficient in their duties, overall.

(Keep this all in mind, as we’ll talk a bit more about it toward the end of this post.)

Enabling Your Teams and Facilitating Ownership

Once you’ve generated buy-in throughout your organization, the next step is enabling all of your teams to actually play a more active role in creating a top-notch experience for your customers.

As CXE specialist Melissa Madian explains in an interview with Vision Critical, CXE is about enabling “revenue-generating and customer-facing teams with the processes, tools and training they need to help close business faster and deliver a superior customer experience.”

While “playing a more active role” can mean different things to different team members (and different organizations), the key to being able to do so is active, intentional, cross-team communication throughout a given organization.

For one thing, this means building avenues of communication between all teams—and breaking down any barriers to communication that may exist within your organization. In a literal sense, this may mean making it easier for your various teams to interact with each other (whether physically or via technology). More symbolically, this means breaking down silos and cutting through any red tape that may hinder communication between certain teams.

Secondly, you’ll need to actively facilitate and systematize internal communication processes (as opposed to just hoping it occurs organically simply because you’ve “enabled it”).

This may mean restructuring processes to include more of your team members as needed—with the focus remaining on the customer experience at all times. Again, even if a certain internal process doesn’t seem to impact CX all that much, your marketing, sales, and support teams might discover otherwise when an internal decision ends up causing chaos for your customers.

Going along with this, another way to facilitate and enhance internal communications is via knowledge management, specifically by making use of knowledge sharing and knowledge transferring systems. Doing so will allow various teams to stay apprised of the goings-on throughout your organization, and can also easily communicate vital information from their department to other teams as necessary.

To reiterate, the goal of this initial step toward customer experience enablement is to get your team members on board with your initiative—and to begin putting structures in place that allow all of your team members to pursue this initiative both individually and as a company.

Bluntly speaking, without this piece of the puzzle in place, it’s nearly impossible to accomplish what we’ll be discussing next.

2. Focus on Customer Intelligence and Other Valuable Data

The second key component of customer experience enablement revolves around the collection, assessment, and analysis of audience-related data.

To be sure, most modern organizations already know that big data plays a huge role in their CX-related initiatives and efforts. According to data collected by MarketingProfs, 40% of marketers say data is “critical to improved decision making,” while 36% say data “drives the ability to provide personalized experiences.”

importance of big data to executing customer centric programs

(Source)

The problem, though, is that most organizations don’t feel fully equipped to actually put the data they collect to good use. Case in point, 61% of CMOs admit to shortcomings when it comes to using big data to make improvements to CX.

While Adobe’s data shows companies are adept at data hygiene-related processes (i.e., ensuring data is accurate and reliable), this is only a part of the equation. It’s in understanding the contextual meaning behind the data that causes issues for most companies. And, when it comes to data relating to the customer experience, context is key.

Collecting Customer Data that Matters

With the above in mind, your first order of business is to focus on uncovering the data that provides the most valuable and accurate insight into your customers’ expectations. This is where Voice of the Customer is huge: it’s all about digging into the specifics of what your customers want from your brand—and minimizing the potential for your customer-facing data to be taken completely out of context in the future.

It’s important to note, here, that customer experience—and, by extension, CXE—refers to all engagements that occur between your organization and your customers, whether pre-, post-, or during a given purchase.

By looking at a specific data point, metric, or piece of customer feedback with the customer’s journey in mind, you’ll add an extra layer of context to the data you collect and analyze. In turn, you’ll be able to tailor their experience with your company even further—making them more likely to stay loyal to your brand for some time to come.

(Again, we’ll get to that momentarily.)

Collecting Internal Data that Matters

Another data-related part of CXE is prioritizing customer-facing info that provides the most value to your company.

Essentially, this means focusing on data that refers to your most valuable and loyal customers, as well as your highest potential prospects. This will enable your team to start making CX-related improvements to get your high-value customers even more engaged with your brand. Needless to say, this will lead to nothing but good things for your business moving forward.

Speaking of making improvements to your customer experience…

3. Improvements to CX that Matter—and Last

Before we get too far into this last section, let’s quickly go over the aspects of CXE we’ve discussed thus far:

Now, to be clear, all of these initiatives are done for one main reason:

To be able to make impactful and lasting improvements to your brand’s processes—in turn enhancing your brand’s overall customer experience.

As we said earlier, these improvements can manifest in any number of ways, such as:

  • Streamlining transactional processes, making it easier for customers to receive the product or service they require quicker and with less downtime
  • Improving onboarding processes, allowing customers to “hit the ground running” with your product or service—and maximizing the value they get out of it, as well
  • Making iterative changes to your product or service based on customer feedback, ensuring your customers continue to receive more and more value from your brand over time

Notice that each hypothetical improvement listed above is tied to a specific target outcome focusing directly on the customer’s experience. At the risk of being redundant, that’s literally the point of customer experience enablement: to enable your team to provide a better experience to your customers.

CXE is also about making sustainable and long-lasting improvements to your processes, ensuring that you’ll be able to provide an enhanced experience to your customers not just once or twice, but from here on out.

This is why it’s essential for CXE to start at the foundational and systemic level of your organization: Skipping this crucial step could cause your team to revert back to the “old way” of doing things—rendering any gains you may have experienced in the meantime moot.

But, with a deep-seeded, evidence-backed understanding of all that goes into enhancing CX, your organization will understand the importance of adopting and integrating new CX-related processes into their daily operations.

While any temporary or superficial improvements made will likely not lead to any long-lasting benefits for your organization, those more systemic and strategic improvements can only lead to great things for your business.

First of all, the more enjoyable and valuable your CX in the eyes of your customer, the higher your customer satisfaction rate will climb. Of course, with this increase in customer satisfaction, you’ll also likely experience a boost in retention, advocacy, and acquisition, as well.

Additionally, as your organization becomes more acclimated with your CXE-related initiatives, your teams will become more proficient and efficient in completing their individual duties. More efficiency means less wasted resources—which, in turn, means more resources on-hand to reinvest into improving your CX even further.

Finally, we’d be remiss if we ignored the fact that effective customer experience enablement leads to massive profits for companies of all sizes.

The more value your customers receive from your brand, and the easier it is for your company to provide this value to them, the more money your company will make as time goes on.

It’s that simple.

Josh BrownAbout the Author: Josh Brown is a Customer Success Engineer and part of the marketing team at Helpjuice. Helpjuice provides easy-to-use knowledge base software that guarantees less support emails and more happy customers.

Learn how Wootric can help you measure and improve customer experience. Book a consultative demo today.

CX Professionals Talk About 3 Strategies to Drive Action

At a recent MaritzCX event, we held an interactive power hour  facilitated peer-to-peer discussion about creating a strategic action plan to generate the expectations and actionability of insights. The room was all a buzz with CX professionals, who were sharing ideas and discussing the methods that work best when it comes to driving action throughout their organizations.

We all know that gathering insight from customers doesn’t help “you” or “them” if you don’t use that information to make an impactful change. In the CX profession, we like to measure and look at metrics—but influencing people, teams and organizations to act differently is one of the most important and difficult things we need to do.

This interactive discussion pinpointed 3 strategic ways to drive action throughout your organization:

1. Drive Ownership at All Levels of Your Business

  • Empower the lines of business with data, so that action can be taken by the owners who can make changes for customers.
  • Engage the business lines in your CX work from day one. If there is a certain customer pain that a business line would like to learn about, bring them into the process from the beginning to develop a research learning plan, so that they have accountability with you. When the insight is brought to the forefront, action can be taken immediately, because the business lines have been involved from the beginning.
  • Provide a Playbook or repository of best practices with peer review to share with your front line employees. If you know what works well for the customer, share it and give your teams the ability to rate the information on an interactive platform. This enables peers to know when something is working well, or when it needs to be revised.

2. Don’t Forget the Importance of Data Integration

  • Use both Voice of Customer (VoC) and operational data metrics. Do not report them separately. Your data should be reported as one, as this will help you and your organization develop a better understanding of customers.
  • Leverage, test, and learn. When insights come in, they are telling us something. Use that information, get into market, measure the gaps and make sure to drive the right business outcomes (from what customers are asking for). Listen, test and learn is the key to success.
  • It is important to try and solve the right business problems. You now have all your data integrated into a comprehensive story of what your customers are saying, as well as what the business outcome is. At this point, you can rally around what problem you want to solve and then use the right metrics to carry that forward.
  • Use the data. You need to make the data immediately available and transparent to all employees throughout your organization.

3. Collaboration that Goes Beyond Your Team’s Cubicle Walls

  • A hub and spoke cross-functional model can be an effective way to help with accountability and actionability throughout your organization.
    • The hub is the CX team
    • The spokes are all other organizations/teams that own and drive CX/EX action within their part of the organization. They are the ones that are truly accountable for driving change.
  • Develop a thorough communication strategy. A communication plan that conveys the required actions and the business value of the change should leverage the customer feedback, put it into effect, and inform the organization about it, and the changes that have taken place.

I’d like to thank Amy Jo Fisher, American Family Insurance for facilitating the event discussion.

 

 

3 Best Practices to Engage Your Frontline Employees

Identifying the Problems Your Customers Encounter, Is Only Half the Battle

Knowing how to resolve them, however, is what really matters. Many companies, while committed to improving the customer experience, are not where they want to be with their Voice of the Customer (VoC) initiative. In particular, the frontline managers and employees who directly shape customer experience lack the information and resources they need to take effective action and fully engage with their CX programs.

MaritzCX has conducted extensive research and interviewed employees at a variety of levels and companies who are responsible for translating survey results into action. Our research revealed several common issues for frontline employees:

  • Feeling left out of the design;
  • Not fully understanding the story; and
  • Not knowing what to do even when they do understand

When CX programs fall short in critical areas like these, the front line employees disengage—and that’s a problem. After all, these programs don’t just exist to feed corporate dashboards; they also support and drive actions to improve the customer experience.

So, what’s to be done? It starts with acknowledging the front line as stakeholders in the process.

1. Give Front line Employees Their Own Voice

Front line employees can develop customer loyalty, attract new customers, build your company’s reputation, and drive your company’s profit. It’s important, then, to make the front line an equal partner in the design process and tailor the reporting engines to their needs. Here are some recommendations:

  • Involve Them in Program Design: Include front line managers as active members of the design team to learn their perspectives firsthand—after all, these are the people creating and delivering much of what the customers experience.
  • Give Them What They Crave—the “Real” Voice of the Customer: Verbatim customer comments provide a rich source of information and value to the front line. Sophisticated text analysis tools allow survey designers to shift the balance from 100% close-ended questionnaires to those that actively seek open-ended feedback.
  • Offer Them Questionnaire Real Estate and Flexibility: Mass customization techniques are making it possible for organizations to tailor their customer experience surveys for individual operating units or groups. Smart organizations will also include a “flex” section in their surveys to accommodate topical or time-sensitive issues of interest.
  • Give Them Easy-to-Use Feedback Mechanisms: Consider developing a system that encourages the front line to provide regular feedback on the survey process, e.g. one that is built directly into the reporting system for added convenience.

2. Use the Right Tool for the Right Job

Collecting the right information is only the beginning; you must also make the information easy to access, use, and understand. Today’s customer experience reporting portals can be difficult to use, non-intuitively organized, and full of distracting elements that obscure the message for the end user.

Employees with different responsibilities require fundamentally different information. A retail manager for a bank, for example, does not use the same information as someone in headquarters. Focusing on the front line and their specific needs helps the organization design a more effective reporting system and user interface. Most industries with a retail operation have at least three user roles with different needs:

  • Headquarters/Corporate Users
  • Regional or Area Managers
  • Frontline (Unit) Managers

It is important to design your reporting system with the end users in mind and equip employees with tools that cater to their individual needs.

3. Remember, It’s All About Action

It’s easy to get caught up in the details of sampling and questionnaire design and forget what equally matters: inspiring and motivating people to do something with the information. To do this, you need to deploy a consistent VoC process that aligns the right people and processes to enact meaningful change.

The ideal reporting system will include a “cafeteria plan” of pre-configured tools that support actions at the unit level:

  • Performance Metrics Tools help managers identify and prioritize the areas they need to focus on to improve the customer experience. These tools can be aligned with organizational goals or used to analyze the relationship between customer experience and business outcomes such as loyalty. In either implementation, it encourages unit managers to understand the potential outcomes of their efforts.
  • Employee Coaching Tools, when built directly into customer experience management (CEM) systems, allow front line managers to collaborate with their employees and address areas of concern or opportunity. Alternatively, when linked to the organization’s learning management system (LMS), they can redirect employees who are struggling in a certain area to applicable training courses.
  • Service Recovery Tools, such as unit-level case management systems, allow front line managers to identify at-risk customers and reach out to resolve the problem. Additionally, managers can assign specific tasks to employees, close out concerns, and monitor case aging and incidence rates.
  • Diagnostic Processing Improvement Tools, when implemented at the unit level, allow front line managers to use a gated action planning process to resolve their specific problem areas. A well-designed reporting system should include a section to develop and track unit-level action plans.

Conclusion: Ringing the Cash Register

The investment return on VoC programs has never been in the measurement—it’s what companies do with the information that has the potential to ring the cash register. Getting the right information into the hands of unit managers and other front line employees is critical to improving the customer experience. The best systems:

  • Offer tools that support effective service recovery, employee coaching, and action planning;
  • Link to learning systems; and
  • Contain monitoring tools that drive action-ability and collaboration across all levels of the organization.

Anything less and you risk disengaging your employees and selling your VoC initiative short.

The VMware Culture Journey to Inspire Customer Centricity

VMware Inspires a Customer-Centric Culture

Customer centricity is a hot topic in business these days, as more and more companies challenge themselves to foster a “customer-centric culture.” But that’s a tall order – not to mention an ambiguous one – and it raises a number of questions, such as:

  • What is a customer-centric culture anyway?
  • Why is it important?
  • Who is responsible?
  • How do you inspire a customer-centric culture?

We are actively leading a customer centricity transformation at VMware, and while every organization is unique, our answers to these questions may prove useful as you embark on your own journey. And the word “journey,” when it comes to a customer-centric culture, is key.

For us, it all started with an unwavering passion to do the right thing for our customers, and over time it became clear that we needed to develop a deliberate strategy around it. We’ll talk more about our strategy later, but for now let’s break down the basics.

What is a Customer-Centric Culture, Anyway?

Customer centricity is more than a concept – it’s a mission. At VMware, we believe that customer centricity goes beyond creating great customer experiences – we put the customer at the center of everything we do. Customer centricity is a core company value, a way of thinking, and an approach to doing business.

To achieve that state of being, I can’t overstate the importance of humanizing the customer for your employees. Real culture shift happens when your employees walk in your customer’s shoes and genuinely understand how their individual roles impact the customer experience (even if they aren’t customer-facing!). With understanding comes empathy, and with empathy comes motivation to make a difference.

Why is it Important?

Ah, the million-dollar question. Starting at the top with our CEO Pat Gelsinger, we firmly believe it is our responsibility to provide the best possible experience for our customers. After all, VMware wouldn’t exist without them. In short, it’s the right thing to do.

We also know that consumers and businesses today have more options than ever before, and if we don’t deliver the kind of experience our customers expect, they won’t continue doing business with us. VMware thrives when our customers successfully harness our solutions to meet their business needs – so it makes sense business-wise for us to listen and act on our customers’ needs.

Who is Responsible?

Every employee plays a role in the customer experience. Whether front-of-house or back-office, we all contribute to our customers’ perception of our company.

At VMware, our Customer Advocacy team drives the customer centricity strategy which helps every team, from Leadership on down, understand their role in creating an exceptional customer experience.

In my view, an effective culture strategy has two main components:

  1. Active participation from the entire Leadership team. Employees will prioritize what their leaders are focused on. We work with all functional leaders to ensure their customer obsession talk tracks are woven into every major communication, from all-hands meetings to newsletters; and that they convey a sense of importance and urgency, focusing directly on the customer experience elements that are in the wheelhouse of their audience.
  2. Individual employee customer-centric decision making. We strive to empower every employee with the insights, resources, and independence necessary to operate in the best interests of both VMware and its customers. To facilitate customer-centric decision making, we also strive to ensure that customers are top of mind for all employees, day in and day out. This is where customer-centric culture comes in, and it is why we’ve fully dedicated a member of our team to lead culture programs that create customers for life.

How Do You Inspire a Customer-Centric Culture?

Inspiring a customer-centric culture doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey, and my team has learned plenty of lessons along the way. Some of our efforts have been more effective than others, but this is to be expected.

One of our notable successes to date has been VMware’s annual celebration of Customer Experience (CX) Day, an industry holiday. We think that CX Day is akin to a wedding anniversary! While you work hard at your customer relationships every day of the year, as you do your marriage, CX Day is a great opportunity to pause, celebrate, and show gratitude for the relationship you have with your customers.  Our worldwide celebrations have engaged employees via interactive journey mapping, tours of a customer story “museum,” and other activities to acquire feedback on how to improve the customer experience. See how we celebrated CX Day in 2018!

While CX Day is impactful, we obviously want our employees to think about customer experience more than once a year! To that end, we created a global ‘CX Leaders’ program to cultivate a network of customer enthusiasts across VMware. The inaugural set of leaders were prior recipients of an internal award recognizing individuals who went above and beyond to deliver a great customer experience. The Leaders conceptualized a program known as Customer Appreciation Week, which focused on the power of an unexpected thank you. Over the course of the week, our sales teams reached out to nearly 4,000 customers to thank them for their commitment to doing business with VMware – and that was it. That’s right – no sales pitch, no upsell, no renewal prompt. The customers were surprised and delighted by the display of appreciation with no strings attached – and for us it was a simple way to maintain relationships and reinforce our commitment to our customers.

Our Closed Loop program is another area where we invest to engage employees and strengthen customer relationships. The program connects dissatisfied customers with VMware employees to dive deeper into feedback provided through various listening posts. In these conversations, the VMware employee seeks to understand the root cause of dissatisfaction and build a relationship with the customer, then follows up with the appropriate internal business unit(s) to develop improvement plans. The program mutually benefits VMware’s customers and employees, and it’s one of the best opportunities for an employee to walk in our customer’s shoes.

Closing Thoughts

I’d like to leave you with a final thought, which is that customer centricity isn’t binary – it’s a journey that begins with customer focus and extends to customer obsession. For us at VMware, it represents a fundamental business transformation that will extend far into our future. The best is yet to come!

The No. 1 Enemy of Dealer Customer Retention!

I discovered a surprising truth after three years as Customer Retention Manager for a large volume dealer in Houston. There is a hidden enemy that must be addressed before any customer retention initiatives can be achieved. It is the no. 1 enemy of client retention, and yet most practitioners fail to recognize it, let alone address it.

It’s the reason why many dealers are left with small, gradual changes in their retention efforts that pale in contrast to the huge budgets and time spent acquiring new customers. But by keeping an existing customer, who is apt to buy again, dealers could be spending many times less to obtain the same amount new vehicle sales.  As proof of this, the 2018 Cox Automotive Service Study found that buyers who returned to the selling dealer for service in the past 12 months were 74% more likely to return to that selling dealer for their next vehicle purchase. Returning service customers were 74% more likely to buy their next vehicle from that same selling store! Those who didn’t return for service in the past 12 months were only 35% more likely to return for their next purchase.  That should gain the attention of most dealer GM’s, who generally come from the sales side of the business.

And speaking of sold customers returning for their next vehicle purchase, that same Cox study revealed a negative by-product of today’s obsession with “conquesting” sales from other dealers.  “Not a convenience location” (no. 5 reason in the 2015 survey) moved up to the second most given reason for new vehicle purchasers not returning to the dealer where they purchased.  So, there is a very good chance that many of today’s conquest vehicle sales will not return to that original dealer for service because they live out of the area where the selling dealer is located.

So, what is the number 1 enemy of retail auto customer retention?

No, the number 1 enemy isn’t a limited budget. Although a sufficient budget is necessary, it’s not the real enemy of a successful retention strategy.

Lack of buy-in from the dealer and management? It’s important, but the reason store leadership doesn’t get solidly behind a retention push is directly tied to the no. 1 enemy.

Silos are a real problem. You must address them, and it is not simple to do so, but they are not the real problem.

Competing initiatives are often cited as a reason for lack of meaningful progress in addressing customer retention. But these agendas usually directly support the number 1 enemy of retention. And that focus distracts management from seriously directing resources in the support of retention.

The lack of a robust technical infrastructure? Yes, retention can be aided with better technology, but it is not the true obstacle to retention.

Lack of training? It certainly helps to have trained employees, but if the average auto retailer really believed in retaining existing customers as a primary strategy, they would find the budget and time to train their workers. HINT: All the training, technology and “knowledge” in the world is not going to thoroughly address the number 1 enemy of retaining customers!

Lack of support from the OEM? No, automakers are offering more and more mega cash incentives for customer retention, as I covered in this post for the MaritzCX Cafe blog.

It’s transactionalism, an all-consuming focus by dealers on the “deal” or the “RO” is the number 1 enemy of a successful customer retention program. And that obsession consumes both the larger part of store budgets as well as the time spent by the staff.So, what is the number 1 enemy of a successful customer retention transformation?

Transactionalism describes the decades old, deeply ingrained tradition of placing the transaction front and center as the primary strategy for most auto retailers. And while the transaction has always been the primary focus of showroom sales, it’s just as prevalent these days in the service lane. Customer facing employees are paid to maximize and close “deals/ROs”, and because of that, retaining customers takes a back seat.

I’ve heard it said time and time again that there is little customer loyalty these days in retail auto. But how would we know? If the industry is so intoxicated with the transaction, and much less so with retaining the customer, it’s no wonder customer loyalty is perceived as dead. I spoke directly to this reality in a past MaritzCX Cafe post titled Retail Auto: Client Loyalty is not Dead, But Client Follow-Up is!

But there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon.  Early last year, one of the largest automakers launched the first ever OEM customer rewards program and another major manufacturer followed soon thereafter.  And there is strong evidence that other OEMs are pivoting more and more towards implementing strategies that handsomely reward dealers and their associates for focusing on  retention.

That’s great, but the big question left is, how are the OEMs going to move the needle of retention forward, when most of the dealers are still consumed with “transaction?”  This is all about changing behavior at the dealership, which is the toughest challenge of all.

Behavioral Science Can Reveal Your Customers’ True Feelings

Insights Come Hand and Hand with Listening

There is no feedback more important for companies to utilize than the candid, true thoughts and feelings of employees and customers. In fact, having a detailed understanding of your brand’s emotional connection to consumers can produce positive financial results and retain valuable customers, while even attracting new ones.

Behavioral science is the study of human behaviors; the causes and the effects. There’s much we can learn from people’s actions and decisions that can help businesses to draw conclusions and make predictions that ultimately impact them financially. From product development to sales and services, every person in the journey and every step that’s taken by an organization will contribute overall to the emotional trust that consumers have for a brand.

According to an article published by The Harvard Business Review, on average “fully connected” customers are 52% more valuable to businesses than those who are just “highly satisfied” with the brand or service. Any company, from any industry can forge powerful connections to their customers by properly identifying and aligning themselves to the specific emotions that drive profitable behaviors. The first step is to identify how your customers feel and find the places to fill the gap between general satisfaction and full-on loyalty.

Be Aware of the Brain and How It Works

As humans, our brains are always working around the clock. Everyone has motivators, expectations, and experiences that influence how we feel and react. We will all bring to the table different elements and can’t change how our brains are wired. Constantly, our brains are taking in information and even making quick judgments or decisions on a moment’s notice. A huge number of daily decisions are made intuitively, and most decisions rely on feelings and emotions more than rationality. Especially when it comes to “gut feelings,” something we trust within ourselves more than any outside logic or mental analysis.

And unfortunately, although our brains are quite amazing, the constant stream of brain activity actually deteriorates the quality of our decisions over time, leading to an irrational trade-off in decision making. This is called decision fatigue.

For example, after a long day, do you want to go home and cook a meal, or just simply get takeout? Earlier in the day, before mental exhaustion kicks in, going home to cook a nice meal might sound healthy and cost effective. But by the end of the day, one might lean towards take-out instead because it’s easy and quick. Neither decision is necessarily good or bad, it’s just all about the condition of our minds prior to making decisions, that determine the amount of concentration delegated to certain choices over others.

Another factor that drives perception is the “peak-end” rule. This is whether an experience is remembered as pleasant or not, based only on the peak moment, or the end of the experience. Instead of a “general” overall recollection, it’s only what is remembered most, that drives the perception.

In order to manage and control perceptions, organizations need to pay equal attention to the emotional side of their customer experiences, as well as the operational processes. When customers don’t feel like their concerns are being heard or met, they will go where they will be addressed, and that doesn’t guarantee that you keep their business.

Learning to leverage behavioral science will give companies the ability to identify customer emotions with financial impact and provide them with a “neuro” road-map for maintaining loyalty. Because being aware of the brain, and how it works, can bridge the gaps in any customer and employee experience; if only you are willing to listen.

The Emotional Insight That Awaits You

Lots of emotional insight is waiting to be unlocked, but where to begin? In order to maximize opportunities from emotional connections, companies must examine every customer touch point and find opportunities where they can enhance the emotional motivators. It’s important to understand what you need to measure, and where.

The following questions can be helpful to begin with:

  • What promotes consumer behavior, and what emotions contribute to decisions?
  • What type of personas are being interacted with?
  • Who is interacting with who?
  • What is trying to be accomplished overall?
  • What are customers going through, and how do they feel along the way?

A great way to collect answers to these questions are through customer journey maps. Journey mapping helps to interpret what your customer will go through, and what they are actually feeling.

Throughout the customer journey, there are places to keep tabs on what consumers are thinking and feeling during certain moments. To find crucial touch and pain points, Quantitative surveys with open ended unstructured data, analyzed with text analytics, can detect in customer language a variety of topics that stand out. Creating and understanding a range of feelings and experiences from the collected data, especially the intense ones, closes the gap between customer expectations and the actual experience. These customer insights can determine where damage is being done and allow for prevention of future occurrences.

All the right experiences can be designed to reach the right touch points when you acknowledge the brain and determine the proper “feelings” for your employees and customers.

Set the Bar for Proactively Understanding Your Customers

A recent MaritzCX study revealed that 80% of the companies who proactively gather, analyze, manage and use insights into customers’ feelings have better financial performance, year-over-year.

Whether you have a pre-existing customer experience program for your business or are jump-starting a new one, first ask yourself, “Do you know how your customers feel about their experiences they are having with your brand?

Emotional connections are no longer a mystery and can be utilized by businesses in-tune with their customers, as a competitive advantage to growth. At MaritzCX we work with businesses to prioritize and focus on what elements have the biggest emotional impact.

Listen to, The ROI of Feelings webinar to learn more.

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